This is a conversation I would love to have with Richard Armitage. He has recently made two comments in video interviews that I find intriguing. Intriguing because I really don’t know the answers to the questions raised. The first is on his performance of the original audiobook of Hamlet Prince of Danes by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson.
In the video interview posted by Audible, Mr. Armitage says about the audiobook that “you really have much more insight into their motivations, it’s much more gray and realistic, and particularly with Ophelia in this, in this story. I seem to relate to her. I think the fact that, you know, what has motivated her suicide in this story, is much more complicated and it actually turns out that it isn’t a suicide at all.” (Thanks to RichardArmitageCentral.co.UK for the transcription.)
He particularly related to Ophelia? I wonder why? In the audiobook, Ophelia is Hamlet’s lover, as is implied in the Shakespeare play. She is bound by her dependence on her family, so when her brother and father tell her to leave Hamlet alone, she feels she must. In the audiobook Hamlet angrily accuses her of being more faithful to her family than to him. Ophelia then bucks up her courage and devises a scheme where possibly she & Hamlet can be together in the future. It doesn’t work out, of course, and she falls victim to a ruthlessly evil ally of her father & King Claudius. Brave, naive, beautiful Ophelia. Why does Mr. Armitage relate particularly to her? He says that what motivated her suicide, which was not a suicide, in much more complicated. I would love to hear of his thoughts about her.
In the Shakespeare play Ophelia appears to have lost her mind when she visits the Queen and sings of maids losing their virginity and how someone, presumably her father, is dead and gone. Leaving the impression that losing both Hamlet and her father has unhinged her mind. Next we hear, she is drowned.
Of course, in the audiobook although she drowns there as well, she has most certainly not lost her mind. She is still hoping for her and Hamlet to be reunited, with him as King and she as Queen. Alas, it was not to be, as craftier minds uncover her plan and get rid of her.
In the second interview, for the upcoming production of The Crucible at The Old Vic Theater, Mr. Armitage speaks about his enthusiasm for playing the part of John Proctor, a part that “was one of those roles that I’d always coveted and, and knew that I’d eventually play one day, and knew that by playing him I’d be changed as a person.” (Again, thanks to RichardArmitageCentral.co.UK for transcription.) Another subject I would like to discuss with Mr. A. What does he expect will be changed in him by playing the role of John Procter?
This put me in mind of a recent interview with Richard’s colleague from The Hobbit, Lee Pace, who has a new television program beginning in the U.S. on Sunday, Halt & Catch Fire. Mr. Pace has been giving many interviews to promote the new show, and one of them that I read had a similarly ambiguous insight into his identification with his roles as that expressed by Richard Armitage.
In http://www.buzzfeed.com/jarettwieselman/lee-pace-is-ready-for-the-spotlight-but-not-the-scrutiny interview with Buzzfeed, Mr. Pace said that the role he has played that he most related to was his role as a transvestite in the movie The Soldier’s Girl.
We know Mr. Pace is not a transvestite, so what is it that he feels he most relates to? He doesn’t say in the interview, just seems embarrassed that he has revealed so much about himself in the statement. I have no idea what exactly he revealed, since I don’t know enough about him. By the way, he is AMAZING in the role, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.
What interests me in these interviews is the way these two extremely talented actors, speak about how they find themselves revealed in the characters they play. That, while they may have been oblivious to it previously, when they play a certain role an aspect of who THEY ARE inside as a person is revealed to them. It seems a part of the work they do that they find aspects of themselves in the characters they play. They take their work very seriously. By opening themselves up to the character they are playing they acknowledge that they too have similar emotions, and find that some of their experiences are similar to what the character has experienced. I love them for their honesty in expressing this, even if I don’t really understand what it all means.